As Notre Dame enters the final week of recruiting for 2009 high school seniors, the program continues to fall down the rankings of both Rivals.com and Scout.Com. The Irish have lost a verbal commitment by Nyshier Oliver—the 3/4-star athlete from New Jersey who seems to be headed to Tennessee now. Not only have the Irish lost a potential future star, but they haven't added any for quite some time now.
Currently, the Irish sit just inside the Top 25 rankings for recruiting this offseason. Sure, when a borderline 3/4-star player withdraws his verbal committment, the rankings go down. How can the overall talent pool of the Fighting Irish increase at this point?
Two Words—Manti Te'o
Commonly referred to as the top high school linebacker in the country, Te'o has listed Notre Dame as a finalist for his services. Along with Notre Dame, the rumors have Te'o also flirting with both USC and UCLA. If the Irish are able to land Te'o, they will have an immediate answer to the departure of Maurice Crum, Jr. who leaves Notre Dame after four seasons in the Blue and Gold.
Te'o would be able to fill the middle linebacker void, and with the Irish not being primed for a title run in 2009, he could add valuable experience in 2010—a year Notre Dame will have enough talent to make a serious BCS run.
Sadly for Notre Dame fans, there are a few obstacles that remain in order for the Irish to pull in Te'o. The biggest one would have to be those three dreaded letters—U-S-C. Te'o is expected to make one more visit to Pete Carroll and the USC campus before Feb. 4.
I was excited about learning that Te'o had not eliminated ND from contention. I have to admit that a commitment from him would mean more to me than the Jimmy Clausen commitment did.
Te'o would come in not wearing four state title rings and the punch line of many college football blogs. Te'o is more NCAA ready at his position coming out high school than Jimmy was. Te'o will be an instant contributor for whichever school he chooses.
Sadly, in my eyes, I feel the fact he's taking another look at USC before Signing Day (which requires him to have made a decision) means the Irish and Bruins will just be dragged around for the rest of his high school ride, because he will choose to be a Trojan.
However, as most of you know, I am hardly ever right. Let's hope that is the case again!